Remote work struggles to find accommodation amid Houston tech companies

At a minimum, it would take a 25% raise, six weeks of paid vacation and a job with a clear path of advancement for Jonathan Bundy to return to a physical office.

The 31-year-old technician has been working remotely since taking a job at GoDaddy in 2018. Prior to that, he was doing about an hour each way from Spring at his work as an IT subcontractor at the medical center, spending $ 50 a day. week to park alone, leave home at 6.30am and fight traffic to arrive on time. Over the course of a year, he estimated that it all totaled 3 weeks of his life and $ 5,000 for parking and gasoline.

“Working remotely has kind of become a central part of my way of life,” said Bundy, who now works with local cybersecurity startup ThreatGEN. “I couldn’t imagine coming back knowing what I’ve been up to the last few years. I was able to relax and deepen my knowledge in the field and my personal development with this extra time.

Although some surveys found that up to 65% of tech workers didn’t want to return to the office five days a week, Houston is the least user-friendly tech hub for remote working in the United States, according to a new analysis from the company. venture capital Telstra Ventures.

The group combed through more than 310,000 job openings in 27 cities that have tried to market themselves or themselves as places where tech companies can thrive. It found that only about 2.8% of jobs in Houston gave employees the choice of working remotely or a mix of office and remote work known as the hybrid option – far below Austin. (11.2%) and Dallas (8.8%). Columbus, Ohio took the top spot, with 27% of jobs in the study offering remote or hybrid schedules on their postings. Almost 17% of jobs at longtime technology hub in San Francisco and 14% of jobs in Boston offered remote or hybrid work as a perk.

Jonathan Serfaty, head of data science at Telstra, said his team looked at all posted jobs, not just those in the tech industry, which may be why Houston’s numbers were so low.

“I think that’s an important distinction. Houston is known for engineering, refining, logistics and as a medical center, ”said Serfaty. “You see a lot of jobs with physical engineering operations and in the medical profession have a much lower proportion of remote usability.”

While the jobs Telstra studied weren’t just in tech, the general employment climate could still hamper growth in an industrial city, and civic leaders have been more than keen to attract tech companies. Rice University is set to fully open the Ion, a tech startup incubator, in the redeveloped old Sears building in Midtown. The Greater Houston Partnership and Mayor Sylvester Turner have expressed their hope that Houston becomes a tech destination.

And there has been some success. The amount of venture capital entering the city has increased by 18% from 2019 to 2020, according to another analysis from Telstra Venture, and the number of startups here has increased by 16%. Autonomous delivery company Nuro chose Houston as one of three markets where it would test its driverless vehicles. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which spun off from HP in 2015, announced in 2020 that it would move its global headquarters to Houston.

Adam Bauer, director of issues management and political communications at HPE, said the majority of the company’s Houston-based employees will be able to have hybrid work schedules, commuting to the office only a few times a week for meetings. and collaboration. He said that while the company has always offered some flexibility to work remotely, internal surveys have found that around 70% of their employees do not want to return to the office five days a week after the pandemic.

“Our employees have told us for a long time that they value this kind of flexibility, and it helps us,” said Bauer. “It adds value on the talent side. “

Bundy, a local technician, said he understands why some workplaces want employees to come back. His father is a manager in an IT company and he said it was difficult for him to rally his subordinates and create a cohesive work culture. And her colleagues with families like to have a quieter place to work, especially when the kids were learning at home and during school vacations.

Still, Bundy said it didn’t make sense for him and some of his colleagues to start commuting again.

“You talk about people in cubicle farms, and it’s like, what’s the point? Bundy said. “I can set up a cubicle-sized office at home and I don’t have to tie myself financially to my car and I don’t have the same time burden. “

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